West Yorkshire: BNP has left the local election scene

The British National Party is putting up only two candidates in council elections in West Yorkshire on May 3 – down from more than 70 at its peak four years ago.

West Yorkshire was once hailed by the far-right party’s leader Nick Griffin as its “jewel in the crown” at a time when it was able to stand “full slates” contesting every seat in some districts, including Leeds, at Council elections.

At times it had one councillor in Leeds, five in Bradford, three in Kirklees and three in Calderdale.

In 2008 it had 34 candidates in Leeds – one in each of the city’s 33 wards, and one in a by-election.

It had 20 candidates in Kirklees and 12 in Wakefield, nine in Calderdale and one in Bradford where its structure had already collapsed.

Today it is capable of contesting just one ward in Leeds – Middleton Park – and one in Bradford.

At national level the racist party is facing melt-down as its activists have deserted or been expelled, and its finances come under scrutiny.

The BNP made its breakthrough in West Yorkshire in 2003 when it won a Council by-election in Halifax-based Calderdale.

It went on to take two further seats there.

Today it does not have a single councillor on any of the five Councils of West Yorkshire – Leeds, Wakefield, Kirklees, Bradford and Calderdale.

Some of its former Councillors have quit to become independents. Others are standing for other far-right parties such as the English Democrats in Leeds.

The collapse of the BNP follows years of intensive campaigning by anti-racist and anti-fascist groups nationally and locally.

The Hope Not Hate Campaign, and Unite Against Fascism, delivered tens of thousands of leaflets and newspapers during elections in West Yorkshire, exposing the BNP’s extremism and neo-Nazi links.

Simon Cressy, a spokesman for the Hope Not Hate campaign, said: “The BNP was a major threat to social cohesion in Leeds and the rest of West Yorkshire.

“They were met with a widespread campaign against their racism and division. Today they don’t have a single councillor in the county.

“The electorate has shown what it thinks of the BNP.”

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